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New study says texting doubles a driver's reaction time

14 October 2011

Researchers at the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University have determined that a driver’s reaction time is doubled when distracted by reading or sending a text message. The study reveals how the texting impairment is even greater than many experts believed, and demonstrates how texting drivers are less able to react to sudden roadway hazards.


In addition to the reaction-time element, researchers also measured each driver’s ability to maintain proper lane position and a constant speed. Major findings further documented the impairment of texting when compared to the controlled driving conditions.

The study shows that Drivers were less able to:

• Safely maintain their position in the driving lane when they were texting and their swerving was worse in the open sections of the course than in barreled sections.
• Maintain a constant speed while texting, tending to slow down in an effort to reduce the demand of the multiple tasks. By slowing down, a driver gains more time to correct for driving errors (such as the tendency to swerve while texting). Speed variance was also greater for texting drivers than for non-texting drivers.
 

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